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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Clinton Hints at Extended Bosnia Stay

WASHINGTON -- Three days after his election to a second term, President Bill Clinton opened the door Friday to an extended deployment of U.S. troops in Bosnia, a step he carefully avoided throughout his re-election campaign.

And, moving publicly into the business of renewing his administration, the president accepted the resignation of chief of staff Leon Panetta and announced at a White House news conference that he had chosen Erskine Bowles as Panetta's replacement.

During the past four years, Bowles, 51, has been head of the Small Business Administration, a Panetta deputy at the White House and most recently an investment banker in North Carolina.

Laura D'Andrea Tyson, who as head of the National Economic Council has been one of Clinton's closest economic advisers, also is returning to California.

The hour-long, post-election news conference in the White House East Room was the president's first such extended session with reporters since June 29. He spoke kindly of his Republican challenger, Bob Dole, said he had been too tired after the election to talk with Hillary Rodham Clinton about what role the first lady will play during the next four years, and suggested that despite his criticism of the Republican-inspired welfare overhaul during the campaign he does not foresee a major new effort to change the program.

Throughout the campaign, Clinton sought to ease the concerns of those who said the new welfare would leave poor families with children without an extended federal safety net. He suggested that after the election, he would reopen the welfare debate in an attempt to fix any shortcomings.

The length of the Bosnia deployment hovered over the closing weeks of Clinton's campaign, unmentioned in public by the president. Indeed, in his discussions of foreign policy matters, he spoke in only the broadest terms, avoiding the difficult details of such arenas of uncertain progress as the Balkans, the Middle East and even Russia.

When U.S. troops arrived in Bosnia last December to uphold the peace agreement reached a year ago outside Dayton, Ohio, by setting up buffers between the warring Moslems, Croats and Bosnian Serbs, Clinton and his aides said the deployment would last a year. They said later some forces would remain until March 1997.

Now, he said, NATO, in which the United States plays a leading role, is considering whether to recommend to its participants a more limited, but extended, operation. "It is conceivable that we could participate, but it depends upon exactly what the recommendation is,'' the president said.

Addressing the Middle East conflict, Clinton said the next major hurdle for negotiators to clear is that posed by Hebron. The West Bank city still is occupied by Israeli soldiers despite the agreement reached between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization to turn it over to security forces of the Palestinian Authority.

For the 50-year-old president, it was a rare public performance. He joked with reporters whose questions in the past have caused him the take umbrage. And he displayed none of the ill-effects of the wearing final days of his cross-country campaigning.

Vice President Al Gore watched from a front-row seat, his head nodding and eyelids sagging. Clinton conceded that he had slept in Thursday, until sometime after the noon hour. As for Dole, the president said it was time to give him and Elizabeth Dole "a little space and let them get rested up and think about their lives and what they want to do.''